Newly-recruited Pedro de la Rosa has been continuing his role as Pirelli's F1 test and development driver programme on home soil at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona as the Italian company edges closer to its first public appearance in next month's Abu Dhabi test.
The two-day outing marked de la Rosa's second appearance as Pirelli test driver, following his debut at Valencia just over two weeks ago. The 39-year old tried out both intermediate and wet tyres in Valencia but, for the Barcelona test, he concentrated on the medium and hard compound slick tyres for the first time, refining the package that has already been formulated from previous tests with Nick Heidfeld and Romain Grosjean.
"Once again, Pedro has shown what a valuable asset he is to us through his hard work and detailed feedback," Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery, who oversaw both days of running in Spain, added, "He's carrying out a crucial role and the information that he has provided to us has helped us to further define the tyres that we will take to Abu Dhabi."
de la Rosa's workload included validating the conclusions drawn from past tests at Mugello and Jerez, as well as looking at different ways to make the medium and hard tyres even more effective. In total, the Spaniard - who, until recently, was in the midst of a racing comeback with Sauber - completed 262 laps, the equivalent to around 1218 kilometres, as Pirelli carried out a number of endurance runs, running for around 35 laps at a time, in order to verify the new tyre's consistent performance and reliability in the long term.
Conditions were unusually cold for Barcelona at this time of the year, with temperatures of seven degrees centigrade in the morning. warming to 21 degrees during the afternoon, allowing the engineers to see how the tyres operated within a wide window of track conditions. By the end of the two days, Pirelli was close to defining the rubber that will be taken to Abu Dhabi for the F1 teams to try out next month.
"It's been an excellent couple of days, and I've been very impressed because I have to say that the tyres were at an even higher level than I imagined," de la Rosa reported, "If you look at what Pirelli has done, it's hard to believe that all this work has been carried out in such a short space of time. These tyres have their own quite different characteristics to the current supplier that the drivers will appreciate next year and I'm confident that they will form a very competitive package."
The 4.65-kilometre Circuit de Catalunya, the traditional home of the Spanish Grand Prix, also saw Pirelli continue the development of its GP2 tyres, with Briton Ben Hanley once again taking the wheel of the all-new GP2 single-seater.
Pirelli's next F1 tests will take place at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet early next month, where de la Rosa will concentrate on further development of the soft and supersoft compounds.